A Letter to my Frozen Embryos

Dear embryos,

I can’t believe I’m writing a letter to you. After all, you’re just blastocysts in a freezer. One little AB and three BBs. But to me, you’re so much more than that. You’re our chance to complete our family. Our chance to give our daughter the amazing gift of a sibling. Our hope.

Maybe you think I’ve forgotten about you. After all, it’s been more than two years since you were frozen and safely tucked away. Maybe you think I got my miracle baby and I’ve moved on to leave you forever frozen in time. You think I didn’t choose you.

But the truth is that you’re a part of me and I think of you all the time. In the daily whirlwind of raising a toddler, you cross my mind often. She is so precious to me, so you must be precious too. But I don’t yet know you. Are you a little boy with dark curly hair like me? Or are you a miniature version of your sister who favors her daddy? Can you possibly bring us as much joy as your sister has?

And what if you aren’t healthy? Or you grow up to resent the way you were brought into the world? Or will you break my heart if you aren’t strong enough to survive? What secrets do you hold, waiting to share with the world?

My life is ordinary in many ways. But in addition to the ordinary, I have you, question marks suspended in time. Who would have thought that our hopes and dreams for our family would be sitting in a freezer in Rockville, MD? This is real life, even if it seems like a sci-fi novel. I spend my days changing diapers, listening to the Frozen soundtrack for the 100th time, and occasionally sending positive vibes to you, wondering if we’ll meet in this life or the next.

The Next Chapter

Say YesToday is the last day at a job where I’ve served for the past five years. I’ve been blessed to work with amazingly talented people who are passionate about ending cancer. The decision to leave was not an easy one, but I’m excited for more time and new adventures with my little girl, and also the opportunity to venture out on my own with my career. As a new mom, freelancing will give me the best of both worlds: precious time with my growing daughter and continued career growth and satisfaction.

I’ve learned that life moves very fast, so I want to take pause before I turn the page to reflect on what I’m thankful for in this moment:

  • My education, which prepared me to work in my field for the past 10 years, learning and earning a living
  • Amazing colleagues who’ve mentored me, inspired me, and helped me grow
  • Challenging work that has given me perspective and reminded me to be thankful for good health and precious time with family
  • My husband, who is graciously stepping into the role of sole bread-winner and giving me the privilege of being a fully present mom

This job also gave me the flexibility to take the time I needed for fertility treatments to start our family, and for that I’m eternally grateful.

While I’ll stay connected by working with my colleagues on a freelance basis, it still feels like the end of an era. Here’s to the next chapter full of new challenges and lots of baby giggles!

My Big Promotion…

That’s right, folks. I’m taking the plunge and leaving my job as a nonprofit communications director to stay at home with Zuzu. Technically, I’ll be a stay at home mom, a title I’m not in love with because it conjures up images of me trapped inside my house baking cookies in an apron. The way I see it is the I’m leaving my current career to shift my focus on an even more important job: raising my daughter.

There were SO MANY factors that weighed in to this decision, but here are the Cliff’s Notes.

You only live once. (At least I think!)
Call it a gut feeling or intuition or mommy guilt that won’t quit, but I could not shake the feeling that I’m missing the best part of my life. I like my job and find it fulfilling, but I’ve always wanted to be a mom. I’ve tried the “have it all” path and have found myself stretched very thin the past five months that I’ve been working full-time. I really want to be as present as possible when my kids are young. I’m taking the approach that I only get to go around this crazy world one time. I know I won’t regret time spent with my family during these precious early years.

Childcare is $$$.
Right now my saint of a mother-in-law watches the baby. She loves her to death and they have developed such a special bond. But guys, my baby is crazy. Like never ever stops moving/climbing/exploring. As she gets ready to walk, we all see the inevitable challenges this will pose for my mother-in-law, who is in her mid-60s. And if we’re lucky enough to have another child, there is no way she could (or should entertain the idea of) watching more than one of these crazy kiddos all day long. She deserves to be a Nonna who gets to have all the fun and not the day-to-day dirty work. We did our research on daycare and nannies, but in the DC ‘burbs, prices are crazy and you also have to factor in waitlists. At the end of the day, it just wasn’t right for us.

We can (barely) afford it.
We’re not rich, people. But we are closing in on our mid-thirties and we have both worked hard for the last 10 years. We’ve been able to save and we’re very lucky to have a good safety net from our families if times get tough. We’re the responsible type, so we met with our financial planner to make sure this was something we could swing for a few years, with the eventual plan of me going back to work at some point. That being said, this will be a major lifestyle change, especially for me. I’m the spender and I’m going to need to cool my jets. No more Mini Boden shopping sprees for Zuzu!

I value my sanity.
This decision wasn’t only about Zuzu. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror recently and was frightened at what I saw. Moms are so hard on themselves and I’m no exception. I’ve been so stressed about trying to do EVERYTHING and do it well that I’m not enjoying the precious time that I have with my sweet, growing daughter. If mama isn’t sane, it isn’t good for anyone else.

Because this is a sensitive subject, I want to make sure I say this: Every family is different and all parents are faced with tough decisions when it comes to raising their kids. I have SO MUCH respect for working moms and dads and moms and dads who choose to stay home. I firmly believe that there isn’t a right way, just a right choice for each individual family.

Last but not least, LOOK AT THIS FACE! I mean really – could you stay away from her all day? Stay tuned as I explore this exciting new chapter!

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Am I Missing It?

Eight months are gone in the blink of an eye, and they’ve also dripped slow as molasses. “The days are long but the years are short,” they say. It’s the biggest parenthood cliche and for good reason.

Some days I feel at home in my new role as mama, and other days I still feel like an outsider looking in. Between two worlds — my old self and new — I’m still finding my way.

IMG_1019But my little girl, she is fresh and new to the world. Every day is an adventure and she is just starting her story. What role will I play? I want so much to get this thing right. Be her guide. Be her favorite person. Be her inspiration. Should I continue to work so we can provide her with the best? Show her that she is strong and smart and capable, and doesn’t need to rely on anyone else. Or should I stay home and be her safe haven, teaching her the things that only a mother can? Spend these sweet early years together learning and growing. Can I do it all? Will it slowly burn me out and make me less? Less of a mother and less of myself?

In the worry and the fear of making the right choices, am I missing the beauty of every single new day? The big gummy smile with one little half tooth poking through when I walk into the room. The new pincher grasp, gleefully tossing puffs into her mouth like they’re going out of style. This squirmy, loud, happy, adventurous little person is changing and growing every.single.day and I cannot miss it to worry and stress.

The answers will come. Life will move forward one way or another and we’ll continue to write our story. The most important part is that I don’t miss it.

A Long Hiatus

I honestly cannot believe that my baby is 8 1/2 months old. I knew I would need to take a break from blogging as I learned how to be a mama, but I had no clue I wouldn’t be back here until now! I miss writing and the sense of community I’ve received here and I’m going to try my best to get back into the swing of things.

Truth be told, my life and my heart are VERY full at the moment and I’m so thankful for that. I’m overflowing with love for my daughter, even on the hard days, and trying to figure out how to balance work and everything else. There are days when I feel like I really should have my act together by now, but I’m trying to give myself some grace. I hope getting my thoughts on paper and hearing from others will give me some perspective as I try to “have it all” and be the best mama, wife, daughter, sister, friend, and colleague that I can be. Just reading that sentence is making me sleepy.

Here’s my sweetie at 8 months getting a kiss from her puppy brother!

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Our June Surprise!

Apologies for going MIA, but I had a very good reason! Our sweet little girl decided to surprise us a month early! We welcomed Susannah Rose into the world on June 13. Despite being early (36+1), she was a healthy 5 lbs, 11 oz and 19 inches long. Life since then has been a whirlwind of intense love and serious lack of sleep. She is our miracle and words can’t describe how much we love her.

Now that we’re almost 6 weeks in, we’re beginning to find our groove and I hope to get back into blogging on life as a new mom. Here’s our little girl!

Zuzu birth

To My IVF Babies

To my IVF babies:

Your path into this world hasn’t been easy or traditional, but that makes you even more precious and special to me. It may seem that most people are more fortunate because they don’t have to wait as long or go through as much heartbreak to meet their loved ones. But maybe we are the lucky ones, because our eyes are completely open. We aren’t wondering if the time is right, or how you’ll fit into our lives. We are so ready to welcome you and know you’ll complete us.

You aren’t a happy accident or a crazy whim. You aren’t a “I guess we’re ready” or an “everyone else is doing it” decision. Your dad and I are choosing you, over and over again, until you are here with us. You are our love and commitment and dreams made manifest. With clear minds and hearts, we’re choosing to bring you into this beautiful, crazy world. Soon I hope we’ll be blessed with the opportunity to actively place you into my body, knowing that we are ready for our lives to change for the better. We’re choosing you.

Love,

Mama

A Well Deserved Retirement

Celebrating dad's retirement at a Penn State game

Celebrating dad’s retirement at a Penn State game

My dad’s arrival home to our little powder blue split level house was one of the most exciting parts of the day when I was growing up. He’d pull up in his Buick (always a Buick) after a long day at the office and my brother and I would run outside to show him the frog we found, or to take him for a ride in the Radio Flyer.

I have so many fond memories of my dad from when I was a child. I remember him teaching my little brother to ride his bike without training wheels, and the sheer joy on his face when he finally figured it out. I remember in junior high when he would practice softball with me endlessly in the backyard – perfecting my role as the slow but steady closing pitcher. I remember nights in high school when I was up crying about a boy, or nervous to go away to college. There was my dad, telling me everything would be ok. And most recently, when I told him how hard it has been to deal with infertility, he told me “You may not become a mother when and how you thought you would, but it will happen for you.” He is a man of few words, but they are usually the right ones.

Now that I have been in the workforce for 10 years, it is hard to imagine coming home from work and mustering up the energy to be such an engaged and loving parent. Some days, it is hard to be a good spouse. If I can be half the parent and all-around good guy that my dad is, my future kids will be very lucky.

Today was my dad’s last day of work. He has worked hard his entire life to support our family and give us a wonderful life with so many opportunities. Congratulations, dad, on a well deserved retirement!

Hanging out with dad

Hanging out with dad